– While President Barack Obama has been touting the importance of “insourcing” jobs into the United States (as opposed to outsourcing jobs overseas), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reminded America on Thursday that Obama recently rejected one of the most prominent and beneficial insourced opportunities: the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sand oil through middle America to refineries on the Gulf Coast and create at least 20,000 jobs.
The 1,700-mile Keystone pipeline, which starts in Canada and would end on the Texas coast, has been under review by the Obama administration’s State Department for several years. While a green light from the State Department for the project was expected last fall, the department, under pressure from environmentalists, decided in November to delay its decision until 2013.
On Thursday, at a press conference following the annual State of American Business 2012, Bruce Josten, vice president of government affairs with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cited Obama’s announcement on Wednesday that he would “reward” businesses that bring jobs to the United States through tax credits. Josten, however, added, “The president missed the biggest in-sourcing opportunity yesterday and it’s called the Keystone Pipeline.”
“The smart thing to do would be to approve it,” Josten said, noting that the pipeline has cleared a three-year environmental review and that now politics are standing in the way of the project moving forward.
“I think we’ve already publicly stated this was a political decision,” Josten said. “This is obviously not an environmental or economic decision.” Some critics have said the pipeline was postponed until after the 2012 presidential election to appease environmentalists.
On Wednesday, Obama held a meeting at the White House with business leaders to announce his plan about insourcing.
“In the next few weeks, I will put forward new tax proposals that reward companies that choose to bring jobs home and invest in America – and eliminate tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas,” Obama said. “Because there is opportunity to be had, right here.
“There are workers ready to work, right now,” he said.
In his keynote State of American Business 2012 address on Thursday, Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said the job-creating pipeline should be approved.
“There is no legitimate reason—none at all—to subject it to further delay,” Donohue said. “Labor unions and the business community alike are urging President Obama to act in the best interests of our national security and our workers and approve the pipeline.”
“We can put 20,000 Americans to work right away and up to 250,000 over the life of the project,” Donohue said.
Although the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in December 2011, there are 13.1 million unemployed Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 5.6 million Americans have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. Among the jobs lost since Obama took office, 1.1 million were in the private sector, 1 million of which were construction jobs and another 769,000 that were manufacturing jobs.
At the press conference, Donohue said other world leaders might benefit from Obama’s stall tactics.
“I’ll tell you what the Canadians are going to do about it,” Donohue said. “If they put a long-term delay on (the pipeline), they’re going to build a pipeline to the West Coast and sell that oil to the Chinese.”